Obtaining a proper ruling on foul tips is within reader's easy grasp

ASK CAL

Youth Sports

September 30, 2007|By CAL RIPKEN JR.

DEAR CAL -- I have a question about a foul tip into the catcher's mitt. Is it always a strike? Even on the third strike? I've coached baseball, even American Legion baseball, but I feel stupid that I don't know this one. I thought it was a strike no matter what, but now I'm not so sure.

Will Myatt, Magalia, Calif.

DEAR WILL -- Your question is really pretty easy to answer. A foul tip that is caught by the catcher is always a strike. On a foul tip with two strikes, the catcher must hold onto the ball for the batter to be called out. On foul tips with fewer than two strikes, the batter is not out - even if the catcher holds on to the ball.

As stated in the official rules of baseball: "If a foul tip first strikes the catcher's glove and then goes on through and is caught by both hands against his body or protector, before the ball touches the ground, it is a strike, and if third strike, batter is out. If smothered against his body or protector, it is a catch provided the ball struck the catcher's glove or hand first."

DEAR CAL -- My 11-year old son plays lacrosse for a rec team in Harford County and plays against teams from Baltimore and Cecil counties. Several times recently we traveled to road games on school nights, having to report to the games about 6 p.m. and not getting home until nearly 10. There is always homework that needs to be done, and you can't always do it en route.

We raised our concerns to team officials, who, while agreeing with us, seemed to shrug their shoulders and lay responsibility for scheduling with league officials. Team officials agreed that out-of-county games should not be scheduled during the week but didn't seem to relish taking our concerns further.

We are reluctant to make waves, as our son is passionate about playing lacrosse. He's a goalkeeper and is viewed by many as a team leader. He enjoys the friendships he has developed. Our son is an honors student, and we obviously want to keep it that way, but that desire seems destined to conflict with his sport.

Any advice on how to address a touchy issue?

Leo Bulavko, Edgewood

DEAR LEO -- I believe you have your priorities in order. School should always come first. But you are running into the same quandary many of us face as parents. Your son excels at a sport and enjoys playing it, so you want to give him every opportunity to succeed.

You've taken the proper first step by speaking to team officials. If they truly agree with you, then they should communicate those concerns to other officials within your rec organization to determine whether those sentiments are shared. If they are shared by coaches of other age groups and the people who administer the organization, those leaders should then gauge the feeling among other organizations that are involved in the league.

At that point, if there is enough support, then as a group those organizations should make a presentation to the league commissioner, board of directors, etc.

By taking this approach, if you have enough support from other organizations within the league, you will have tremendous leverage. If the league doesn't agree to at least consider changes, you have enough other organizations to go off and create your own league in which the competing teams share the same philosophy about the place that competitive athletics should maintain in a young person's life.

Have a question or issue arising from your involvement in youth sports? Send it by e-mail to askripken@baltimoresun.com.

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